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How to overcome a fear of heights | Psyche Guides

https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-overcome-a-fear-of-heights-step-by-careful-step

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How to overcome a fear of heights | Psyche Guides
Humans are wired to avoid vertiginous places, but if this fear gets in the way of life then exposure therapy can help

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Suffering from the fear of heights

Suffering from the fear of heights

People that have acrophobia have an irrational fear of heights. Many symptoms of acrophobia are shared with other anxiety disorders, such as shaking, sweating, a racing heart, difficult breathing, nausea, and a dry mouth. Symptoms unique to acrophobia include vertigo and the desire to drop to the knees or clutch on to something.

If your fear of heights starts to interfere with your daily life, then you might want to try to do something to reduce it.

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Challenge your beliefs about heights

People with height phobias think something bad will happen when they are up high. But you are safer than you think and your feared outcome about heights won't really happen.
Ask yourself:

  • What do you believe will happen when you expose yourself to your fear?
  • How likely do you think it is that this would happen?
  • What would be the outcome of it happening? (you might believe a tall building will collapse.)

Once you've answered the questions, start small with the thing you fear and see that the worst doesn't actually happen, or that it is not as bad as you feared.

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The cause of acrophobia

  • A traumatic or frightening event, such as falling off a ladder could cause a fear of heights because the distressing experience gets paired with heights in the person's memories.
  • However, many people can't link their fear to a particular experience.
  • Some people that fear heights did not have repeated safe exposure to heights.
  • Finally, people with height phobia show subtle differences in their ability to maintain their balance, partly because they have more difficulty integrating perceptual information from their visual system.

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Recognize the symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety is a healthy response. When we detect a threat, our bodies respond with a fight-or-flight response to protect us. Our heart beats faster, and we breathe more quickly to get more oxygen to our muscles. We get a dry mouth, and our stomach turns.

Misinterpretation of these bodily sensations is common in many anxiety disorders. Try to see your symptoms for what they are: nothing more than your body’s natural fight-or-flight response.

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Dealing with your fears: Gradually build your tolerance

Gradually expose yourself to your fear, starting small and slowly working up to more challenging situations. Practice a step until your anxiety subsides, then move on to a more challenging situation. It will help you to create new memories without feeling anxious.

Practise relaxation exercises before, during, and after exposure.

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Safety behaviours you use

Identify any safety behaviours you resort to because you think they help to keep you safe.

The most common safety behaviour is avoidance. More subtle examples include closing your eyes, not looking down or over the edges, or tightly holding on to something. Once you've identified your defences, repeat the behavioural experiment without using them.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Fear Of Water

Aquaphobia is a common fear, which varies in severity from person to person.

The main cause of aquaphobia is a bad experience, like a near-drowning incident in the past, while also being her...

Symptoms of Aquaphobia

..include shaking, freezing, or attempting to run. It can also result in panic attacks or anticipatory anxiety before an encounter with water. Being afraid of water can be life-limiting as we experience water in many forms.

Extreme levels of phobia can also lead to ablutophobia(The fear of bathing).

Treatment For Aquaphobia

CBT(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is a popular psychological treatment for aquaphobia. It involves changing your behavioural patterns and stress response gradually. Other treatments include medications and even hypnosis.

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Experiencing Panic Attacks

Experiencing Panic Attacks
  • Around 15 to 30 percent of us experience a panic attack at least once in our lives, which is essentially our body’s emergency response system.
  • Sym...

Understanding The Panic Cycle

There are three reactions that the body produces when in the grip of a panic attack:

  1. Catastrophic or danger-oriented thoughts, which fuel the feeling of fear.
  2. Physical symptoms, like sudden racing of the heart.
  3. An urge to escape.

Panic And The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) region of the brain is activated during a panic attack, and two opposing components get to work as needed:

  1. The Sympathetic Nervous System: Releases adrenaline and other hormones to help with the ‘fight or flight’ response.
  2. The Parasympathetic system: Calms the body and is mostly activated when one is relaxed.

Decide if you should face your fear

Decide if you should face your fear
  • Consider the pros and cons of not facing your fear. 
  • Write those down. 
  • Identify the pros and cons of tackling your fears head-on. 
  • Write down what ...

Evaluate Risk Level

Just because something feels scary, doesn’t mean it’s actually risky. Educate yourself about the facts and the risks you actually face by doing the things that scare you. 

Create an Action Plan

The key to facing your fears is to take one small step at a time. Going too fast or doing something too scary before you are ready can backfire.

Keep moving forward. A moderate amount of anxiety is good. Don’t wait to take a step forward until your anxiety disappears.

If you can’t actually do the thing that scares you to practice, you might use imagined exposure.